Jazz Related Rock / Third Stream / Jazz Related Electronica/Hip-Hop • United Kingdom
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Emerson, Lake & Palmer were progressive rock's first supergroup. Greeted by the rock press and the public as something akin to conquering heroes, they succeeded in broadening the audience for progressive rock from hundreds of thousands into tens of millions of listeners, creating a major radio phenomenon as well. Their flamboyance on record and in the studio echoed the best work of the heavy metal bands of the era, proving that classical rockers could compete for that arena-scale audience. Over and above their own commercial success, the trio also paved the way for the success of such bands as Yes, who would become their chief rivals for much of the 1970s.

Keyboardist Keith Emerson planted the seeds of the group in late 1969 when his band the Nice shared a bill at the Fillmore West with King Crimson, and the two first spoke of the possibility of working together. After
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EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER albums / top albums

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Emerson, Lake & Palmer album cover 3.98 | 16 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Jazz Related Rock 1970
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Tarkus album cover 3.32 | 15 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 1971
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Trilogy album cover 3.96 | 15 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 1972
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Brain Salad Surgery album cover 3.36 | 13 ratings
Brain Salad Surgery
Jazz Related Rock 1973
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Works Volume 1 album cover 2.08 | 9 ratings
Works Volume 1
Third Stream 1977
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Works Volume 2 album cover 2.87 | 6 ratings
Works Volume 2
Jazz Related Rock 1977
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Love Beach album cover 1.85 | 8 ratings
Love Beach
Jazz Related Rock 1978
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Emerson, Lake & Powell album cover 3.23 | 4 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Powell
Jazz Related Rock 1986
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER To The Power Of Three (as 3) album cover 2.25 | 2 ratings
To The Power Of Three (as 3)
Jazz Related Rock 1988
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Black Moon album cover 3.60 | 6 ratings
Black Moon
Jazz Related Rock 1992
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER In The Hot Seat album cover 1.57 | 6 ratings
In The Hot Seat
Jazz Related Rock 1994
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Re-works album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Jazz Related Electronica/Hip-Hop 2003
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Emerson, Lake & Powell : The Sprocket Sessions album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Powell : The Sprocket Sessions
Jazz Related Rock 2003



EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Pictures At An Exhibition album cover 4.17 | 6 ratings
Pictures At An Exhibition
Jazz Related Rock 1971
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends - Ladies And Gentlemen album cover 3.50 | 4 ratings
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends - Ladies And Gentlemen
Jazz Related Rock 1974
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER In Concert album cover 2.95 | 2 ratings
In Concert
Jazz Related Rock 1979
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live At The Royal Albert Hall album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Jazz Related Rock 1992
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Works Live album cover 2.95 | 2 ratings
Works Live
Jazz Related Rock 1993
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live In Poland album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Live In Poland
Jazz Related Rock 1997
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 album cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
Jazz Related Rock 1997
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER King Biscuit Flower Hour album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour
Jazz Related Rock 1997
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Then & Now album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Then & Now
Jazz Related Rock 1998
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER King Biscuit Flower Hour (week of October 30, 2000) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
King Biscuit Flower Hour (week of October 30, 2000)
Jazz Related Rock 2000
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. One album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. One
Jazz Related Rock 2001
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. Two album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. Two
Jazz Related Rock 2001
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER The Show That Never Ends album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Show That Never Ends
Jazz Related Rock 2001
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Fanfare The 1997 World Tour album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fanfare The 1997 World Tour
Jazz Related Rock 2002
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 3 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 3
Jazz Related Rock 2002
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. Four album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. Four
Jazz Related Rock 2006
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Emerson, Lake & Powell : Live In Concert album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Powell : Live In Concert
Jazz Related Rock 2010
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER High Voltage Festival album cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
High Voltage Festival
Jazz Related Rock 2010
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER A Time And A Place album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
A Time And A Place
Jazz Related Rock 2010
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live At The Mar Y Sol Festival album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Live At The Mar Y Sol Festival
Jazz Related Rock 2011
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live At Nassau Coliseum '78 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live At Nassau Coliseum '78
Jazz Related Rock 2011
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live In Montreal 1977 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In Montreal 1977
Jazz Related Rock 2013
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Keith Emerson & Greg Lake : Live from Manticore Hall album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Keith Emerson & Greg Lake : Live from Manticore Hall
Jazz Related Rock 2014
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER 3 (Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer, Robert Berry) ‎: Live Boston '88 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
3 (Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer, Robert Berry) ‎: Live Boston '88
Jazz Related Rock 2015

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER On Tour album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
On Tour
Jazz Related Rock 1977

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER re-issues & compilations

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER The Best Of Emerson Lake & Palmer album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Emerson Lake & Palmer
Jazz Related Rock 1980
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER The Atlantic Years album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Atlantic Years
Jazz Related Rock 1992
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER The Return Of The Manticore album cover 3.07 | 3 ratings
The Return Of The Manticore
Jazz Related Rock 1993
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER The Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Jazz Related Rock 1994
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Fanfare For The Common Man album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fanfare For The Common Man
Jazz Related Rock 2001
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Best Of The Bootlegs album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Of The Bootlegs
Jazz Related Rock 2002
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER The Ultimate Collection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
Jazz Related Rock 2004
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Live In California 1974 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In California 1974
Jazz Related Rock 2012
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Emerson, Lake & Powell ‎: Live In Concert & More... album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Powell ‎: Live In Concert & More...
Jazz Related Rock 2012
EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Fanfare 1970-1997 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Fanfare 1970-1997
Jazz Related Rock 2017



.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
Jazz Related Rock 2004
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
40th Anniversary Reunion Concert
Jazz Related Rock 2011



Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The snag.

"Jumping the shark" is a common phrase that references when a television show, in danger of losing it's audience to the ever-decreasing quality of the program, does something ridiculous to rekindle interest. Named after a moment in an episode of Happy Days in 1977 where Fonzie, clad impractically in his signature leather jacket, takes a water- ski jump over a lake-area in which swims a shark. In the long-run the show didn't have much to worry about because it took seven more years to kill the damn thing, nonetheless the term stuck around and was subsequently applied to pieces of entertainment which acted similarly.

However even before Happy Days and the Fonz, new shining stars of the progressive rock scene Emerson, Lake & Palmer decided to jump the proverbial shark with Tarkus in 1971. For many progressive rock bands, jumping the shark was a common thing to do...in the eighties. Exhausting their creative muscle in the 70s, many bands got burnt out and fell back upon the 80s pop-rock music scene instead, and as many saw it went inadvertently into retirement from the business. However this wasn't the 80's -- as mentioned before Tarkus was in 1971, a period where albums like Meddle by Pink Floyd and Nursery Cryme by Genesis continued to emerge with gusto. Appearing less than seven months after their debut and following a European tour, Tarkus came to a young and craving fan-base happy with almost anything the band produced at the time. For all intents and purposes the album could not have been timed better, but timing is a factor that rarely has bearing on quality. In quality-terms however, Tarkus is vastly inferior to it's predecessor.

One glaring and inadmissible trait the album has is it's VERY obvious pompous nature. ELP went from a mild release with a bit of grandstanding to a overblown and ultimately ridiculous concept album in one fell swoop. Tarkus, and by that I mean the 20 minute title-track suite, follows the adventure of a sentient armadillo tank as he battles his way through a universe filled with ludicrous characters, spotlit ones including a manticore and an aquamarine version of Tarkus himself, so cleverly referred to as "Aquatarkus", the latter to which he ultimately loses against. This concept sounding ridiculous on paper is unsurprising, but what really matters is how the band adapts this concept to sound good. And if you were envisioning something tough, explosive, and chivalrous to depict such a surrealist battleground, you'll be disappointed. On the other hand however if you yearned for an overbearing collection of synthesizer, constant and sometimes heavy guitar noodling and lackluster vocals, then consider yourself acquainted with Tarkus. In simple terms, 'Tarkus' is an out-and-out mess. The song, while mostly being a fast-paced journey riddled with inconsistent progressive ramblings with Carl Palmer rattling around much more flamboyantly than necessary, does have it's odd enjoyable moments. For instance in the latter half there is a short-lived space rock section, but it's quickly pushed aside in order for misplaced quirky keyboard. A dichotomy I mentioned in my review for ELP's self-titled was where each band member seemed like they were trying to out-do each-other with their respective medium. If that was prominent on the first album, then it is even more so on Tarkus. Each member practically trips over eachother, almost like their playing different songs at the same time. It creates an unpleasant mishmash of half-baked ideas that becomes a drag after listening to the same inconsistency for 20 whole minutes.

What's this? A second side? It almost seems strange that there even exists a second side, but even after Tarkus seemed to have gone through each checkbox, ELP continued the album anyway. Unsurprisingly, the second side is just as if not more monotonous than the title-track. Not much is different, other than that Emerson uses some sort of Barrelhouse-esque piano on a few of the early songs, which sounds absolutely horrendous because of a tendency of ELP to turn the keyboard up higher than the rest of the instruments until it becomes overpowering. There is one exception to the second side, however. 'A Time and a Place' is a bit of a throwback to the self-titled, along the lines of the 'The Barbarian' or 'Knife-Edge'. Heavy and atmospheric, this track is so powerful that I've listened to it multiple times with continued interest. Greg Lake's vocals are at their best on this track, his blistering screams channeling Burton Cummings of the Guess Who with their raw intensity. It is truly a memorable piece of music, but unfortunately remains solitary on the second side as the only one noteworthy.

Tarkus is not only a big disappointment, but is also an excuse for ELP to continue to become more and more vapid and self-aggrandizing than they already are with it's widespread success. Some hope still remains, however. The next album may be able to rectify the problems created with this one. Right?

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The Carousel Ballroom, a San Francisco-based music venue that mainly held blues performers such as B.B. King and other African American jazz artists in the 1960s, found itself under the control of a musical conglomerate composed of bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, among others in 1968. These bands intended the venue to be a socio-musical experiment to attract audiences in the San Fran/Haight-Ashbury area. Needless to say, the idea wasn't too successful. Former promoter, Bill Graham, took the reigns in '68, hoping to achieve some success similarly with the hall. However the seating capacity of the hall was lackluster at best, and was not nearly grandiose enough to attract the atrophying community surrounding it. In New York City, Graham owned a similar auditorium by the name of Fillmore East which he had acquired not four months earlier. Deciding to seek a better location, the newly-born Fillmore West was born less than a mile away from the original Carousel Ballroom's location. Fillmore West would go on to host a variety of performances, such as Californian regulars the Grateful Dead, as well as Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, etc. It should be noted that this performance hall came at a very special time, one known to birth many prolific rock bands all across Europe and North America -- the late '60's. Taking place well into what was colloquially referred to as the Psychedelic Era, rock bands of the time were keen on trekking the globe on large extensive tours, where droves of audiences happened to follow them wherever they went. One of the younger of these acts was King Crimson, who, in December of 1969, co-headlined concerts at Fillmore West with London-based jazz rockers The Nice, a band apart of a similar progressive mindset as Crimson. It was there that keyboardist Keith Emerson from The Nice and bassist Greg Lake from King Crimson met and struck up a quick and steadfast friendship. As their series of performances came to a close, Emerson and Lake were already discussing the prospect of forming a new group. The one musician the band the two needed was a drummer, and after a series of unsuccessful tryouts and careful consideration, the band decided on Carl Palmer, known for his work in both The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster. The trio was now set in stone, and a debut album was set in motion. Lake, similarly to how he had in King Crimson, acted as producer, began collecting songs performed previously in the band's gigs, and began executing them in the studio format. Thus, in November 1970, the band's self-titled studio work was born.

Emerson Lake & Palmer, and by that I do mean the album, is perhaps the purest form of skill, intelligence, and understanding of zeitgeist the band ever cared to show. With a 6-track runtime (par for the course for any semi- self-conscious progressive rock band in 1970), the album doesn't exude any overbearing smugness that the band would come to be criticized for. From beginning to end the album is very poignant musically, aside from hitting a few snags and some inopportune times. Starting with the crunching proto-metallic surge of 'The Barbarian', a rock arrangement of ethnomusicologist Béla Bartók's 'Allegro barbaro', ELP manages to pack a big punch in a short amount of time. Unlike many latter releases, ELP's debut does not contain huge quasi-orchestral suites, instead opting for simply semi-lengthy tracks. The majority of the tracks tend to be a mix of clear songwriting and extensive jams. This is clear from the second track, the epic 'Take a Pebble'. Also clear is a certain dichotomy that only got more pronounced as the band aged; because the band is comprised of only 3 admittedly skilled musicians, each member makes what is almost a silent effort to outdo each-other in terms of unabashed bravado. This especially rings true for Keith Emerson, who not only has a luxuriously no-holds-barred piano solo what seems like every 3 minutes, but also permeates the rest of the album with a multitude of synthesized soundscapes that, with multiple listens, can get extremely grating. This relationship between the band members also can create unenjoyable pandemonium, which it seems the band is blissfully unaware is in fact unenjoyable, especially on songs like 'The Three Fates' (said pandemonium occurring funnily enough directly after one of Emerson's solos). This is all prone to subjectivity though, as the band still manages to hit some rather great points. The heavy riffs that the band occasionally pumps out like on the aforementioned 'The Barbarian' and 'Knife-Edge' are much in the vein of Greg Lake's parent band Atomic Rooster, and are thus very well received. 'Tank' may pleasure me with a bias -- as a drummer and a certain fan of Greg Lakes work I'm easily enraptured by a drum solo from the man coincided with some bouncy synth. 'Lucky Man' seems to hold a certain amount of bad blood with prog-fans, however I personally found myself rather warm towards the track's cheesy qualities, not to mention I'm a sucker for some good vocal harmonies.

Upon release, this album was hailed as a mighty fine one, and it's not hard to see why. Right out of the gate Emerson, Lake & Palmer is passionate and alight with unbridled genius. ELP now had a tight grasp on the attention of the outside world, and nearly everything was set up in anticipation for the band's next big hit.


Live album · 2010 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Varicose Vein Salad Surgical Stockings

"We rehearsed for five weeks, which I could never understand why we needed to rehearse that long, Upon hearing the recordings, maybe five weeks was not long enough. It wasn't to the standard that I liked and I didn't think it sounded that good" (Carl Palmer)

They sound like a hungover pub band bluffing it under the delusion that only friends and family are in attendance. On the evidence of this superannuated bumper pay day that the trio repaid with their greatest hits karaoke, it saddens me to report that ELP are no longer even the best ELP tribute band around. Many of their missed entries and cues conspire to sound rushed and tardy, too early and too late which makes for a very nervy listening experience for this self-confessed ELP fanboy. Bum notes proliferate throughout making parts of Take a Pebble and Fanfare for the Common Man stray perilously close to self-parody. (I could swear Emerson is wearing mittens during Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2) Musicians of this calibre however, cannot be uniformly abject for 90 minutes (which is exactly how long a soccer match lasts but it probably feels longer seeing as how we're watching Chelsea's pensioners, one of whom is certainly worthy of a red card or failing that, a red face Greg...) The FOH mixing boffins were clearly unable to tame the sonic gremlins that spoil much of this performance: the drums at the outset sound alternately like Tupperware surdos or timpanic watering cans. The Barbarian they portray here would probably break into your apartment, dust the place, tidy up the rooms and leave behind some baked fruit scones. Similarly, the extant Tarkus critter has been lobotomised into some sort of de-fanged proggie moggie who answers to the name of 'Frisky'. Lake's bass on Knife Edge approaches 'twangy brittle' rather than the required 'guttural brooding' although in mitigation, the aforementioned knob twiddlers have managed to perform some much needed running repairs to the appalling sound quality in the interim. On the up side, there appears a genuinely innovative moment re the unconventional piano intro to Lake's habitually guitar led From the Beginning which explores the implied jazz flavour of his 9th chord vamp quite beautifully. The synth patch used on Keith's outro solo is alas, a disaster, coming across like a busking Rolf Harris armed with Casio's flagship stylophone. Touch and Go lives up to it's associations with a completely fumbled/dropped ball intro from Keith that seems plain vanilla senile (How does this one go again lads? high dotage/dosage?) but settles down thereafter into a reasonably robust reading of what is probably the only classic post 80's ELP number by any permutation of those initials. I'm trying hard to accentuate what few positives there are but why is everything on here just so damn half-baked, wimpy and soulless?

"For me, it's just a pride thing Unless it's as good as what it can be, then I can't do it. I would have carried on if it had been as good as it was. I don't believe it was and I don't believe it would have ever gotten back to that standard". (Carl Palmer)

The piano improvisation through which Emerson negotiates from Take a Pebble to the Tarkus medley is brilliantly realised and the resultant Stones of Years is spared the indignity of degenerating into any anticipated 'Gallstones of Tears'. Things have perked up considerably hereabouts and Keith's organ solo is a veritable highlight of the set. Rather bizarrely, Greg deems it prudent to attenuate the feedback present on this number by erm, shouting 'feedback x 3' into the microphone as if this will somehow make it less noticeable? Worse than that, the now spherical blimp has the chutzpah to regale us with Mass without a trace of knowing irony. Although it's hardly a stand-out in their songbook, it's refreshing to hear a live version of Farewell to Arms from the criminally neglected Black Moon album. This has a quiet and understated dignity about it that survives Lake's habitually treacly 'spoken tag-line' bathos and the odd lapse into poorly digested Elgar betrayed by the arrangement. The grazing anti-warhorse that is Lucky Man benefits from a slyly ingenious piano intro which seems rather wasted on what has always been for me, a very insubstantial ballad. What weight it might possess is further undermined by it's author forgetting the lyrics to the first verse. Keith's gritty and ballsy organ certainly beefs things up considerably but once again, this is a brownie with delusions of being a three tiered wedding cake. To be fair to Prog's favourite law firm, (Emerson, Lake & Palmer est 1970 prop G. Lake esq) they offer a very spirited and in places, moving retread of Pictures at an Exhibition which follows the latter day truncated versions as contained on the likes of the Return of the Manticore. Here the band at least exemplify the hard won lesson that despite the stubborn excesses of their Prog lineage, 'less' is finally acknowledged as begetting a more satisfying and economic 'more'.

Much of the raggedness and inaccuracies that crept into Emerson's playing circa the early 90's were attributable to a trapped nerve condition that eventually required corrective surgery. Although the operation was considered a complete success it did have a debilitating effect on Keith's pianistic abilities thereafter. He had to pare down and relax his playing style somewhat compared to the shredding pyrotechnics of his 'gun-slinger' years. However, based on the evidence of the subsequent Keith Emerson Band studio album and Live in Moscow recordings with Marc Bonilla, his playing is unfailingly top notch on both so I'm at a loss as to why there are so many clinkers on High Voltage

By this point ELP didn't even have either 'Ham or Cheese' to offer their famished but faithful fanbase but we can at the very least finally answer that nagging question first posed in 1971: Are You Ready Eddy to pull those faders down? Yep, and turn out the lights when you leave the building thanks, this show ended 30 years ago.


Live album · 1993 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
- Synchronised Drowning Becomes an Olympic Event -

Although this suffers from the stigma of 'contractual obligation' album notoriety in most quarters, there is plenty on 'Works Live' that is unjustly overlooked by many ELP afficiandos and perhaps deserving of some re-appraisal. The album started life as a single only release called 'In Concert' but was later expanded by the inclusion of more material from the Montreal Olympic Stadium concert with the hand picked (and ruinously expensive) ELP Orchestra. Keith Emerson has stated that the band did not consider this additional material to be of a sufficiently high sound quality to be included on the original record. He even just mailed the finished album to the record company on completion of his production duties, and this will give you some idea what sort of ebb ELP had sunk to at this time.

Their paymasters at the time, Atlantic Records, had no such qualms about these shortcomings and cobbled together this 'bigger/faster/brighter/louder/more expensive' version with which to empty our threadbare pockets and swell their already bulging coffers.

'Introductory Fanfare' - Rather a stilted and cheesy little curtain raiser penned by Palmer and Emerson to get us on our way which is pleasant enough until an MC who makes Ashley Holt seem comparatively 'urban' intones the 'ladies & gentlemen' tagline. Reach for the bucket....

'Peter Gunn' - ELP do a great job with Henry Mancini's 60's spy music which is all the more remarkable without the obligatory twangy electric guitar of the original. Keith's brass sounds are suitably tacky via the Yamaha GX1 and although hardly a grand musical opus, it is great fun and played with just the right amount of tongue in cheek bravura. For those of you with sufficiently strong stomachs, there is a 'dance/house' version of this track by someone/thing called Bassment Jaxx which proves if nothing else, that even God has a slops tray.

'Tiger in a Spotlight' - A much leaner and earthier version of this tune which I much prefer to the rather boggy studio version that continually crops up on 'best of(s)' and compilations (Dunno?) Keith dials up a hybrid organ/piano timbre here on the GX1 which I have always loved to bits and the bass and drum dialogue between Lake and Palmer has a sinewy tautness that lends this simple shuffle blues a real excitement and energy. Both of Emerson's solos are a thrilling treat and display his continuing ability to assimilate the vocabulary and techniques of boogie piano into the electronic realm of rock.

'C'est la Vie' - I have never been a keen advocate of this gushingly wet Lake song but can report that this live rendition is at least a damn sight more robust that its studio equivalent on Works Volume 1. Keith displays his impressive versatility by playing a note perfect version of the session player's accordion solo (but No, he does not stab the squeezebox with knives in case you're wondering, or the author alas)

'Watching Over You' - This really should have been included on Greg's side of Works Vol 1 and although it's a very lightweight solo lullaby it still completely dwarfs most of the songs he did include on that record. Mr L was always at his most enjoyable when tackling simple acoustic songs like this.

'Maple Leaf Rag' - apart from the purpose of ingratiating themselves to a Canadian audience (Pourquoi?)

'The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits' - This is a sparkling little jewel in a rather sombre tiara, a band only version of the Orchestral adaptation of Prokofiev's music that appeared on Carl's slice of Works Vol 1. I certainly loved the latter but this is possibly even better and Emerson has done a fantastic job of arranging the very complex orchestral parts for just his two hands on Hammond and synth. There is some great playing by all the trio here on what is a fiendishly difficult piece to replicate. The organ sound throughout this album is mouth wateringly yummy and combines a real ballsy grunt with some crystalline detail.

'Fanfare for the Common Man' - This reeks of some clumsy tape splicing methinks, as there appears to be a very discernible tuning 'lurch' where one version mutates very clumsily into another? Given that the GX1 synth was an analogue creature prone to 'tuning drift' from temperature and humidity, there may have been instances when it suffered some 'excitable temperament' effects and you can hear evidence of this on this track. The playing as ever, is top notch and the inclusion of Freddie King's 'Hideaway' during the lengthy synth improvisation is a nice touch. There are however, far superior versions of this live ELP staple available elsewhere.

'Knife Edge' - ELP's perennial warhorse pulls up lame here due in no small measure to Greg's impossibly tinny and twangy bass line on this track. Why you would embark on a tune that relies on a deep and guttural bass tone by instead employing the timbre of an eight string soprano ukulele is beyond me. What was Lake thinking about? Shame really as the remainder is very good and the inclusion of the orchestra on the Bach Italian Concerto quotation towards the end is very powerful and effective.

'Show Me The Way to Go Home' - Certainly a fitting standard to cover on ELP's swansong, this is again good fun and the live version is considerably more gutsy and rockier that that on Works Volume 2. As you would expect, they usually closed the shows with this one which makes the next track's running order all the more galling.....

'Abaddon's Bolero' - I think they usually opened with this on the concerts with the orchestra during that ill fated tour. Can't say that either of the orchestrated versions from Keith or ELP even come close to matching the brio and excitement of the 'Trilogy' incarnation. Despite the multitude of gradually building layers of counterpoint (which Keith couldn't hope to replicate on his own), maybe this wasn't ever meant to be played by an orchestra in the first place? Keith listen, I know you're a stubborn bugger, but enough already. It ain't never gonna work....

'Pictures at an Exhibition' - Or 'Polaroids of Hemorrhoids' Comes across as a 7 course meal we are supposed to gulp down as it it were a microwaved TV dinner. Indigestion and/or diarrhoea invariably result from such fast foods and there is audible and pungent evidence of this to suggest band and orchestra were embroiled in an indecent scramble to see who would get to the toilet first during this sprint through 'Pictures'. Once again we encounter Lake's wretched 6 string bass tone which makes his parts sound like they are being performed by George Formby via a small transistor radio. Imagine Shakespear's 'Hamlet' played by Sylvester Stallone and condensed down to 'To be or what...?'

'Closer to Believing' - Similarly to 'C'est la Vie' this is a much better version than that heard on Works Volume 1 and we do get to hear what is a very good song once the overwrought arrangement has been suitably deflated to illuminate some of the finer detail. I just wish that Lake had given us a band only version of this tune, as it certainly has a melodic strength to warrant a much more sympathetic and robust accompaniment without the sentimental treacle.

'Piano Concerto #1 3rd Movement' - A real highlight of the set where Emerson's piano and the orchestra lock horns in an unflinching battle to see who is the last man standing. Although all the orchestral players are amplified, it was done by fixing a specially designed pickup to the acoustic instruments that would preserve the rich sonic palette and subtle nuances of timbre obtained from these sources at the much higher volumes they needed to be heard along with the electronic band. The results here are very authentic indeed and this is perhaps one of the few instances where orchestral sources sound 'untarnished' by amplification. It's just a pity that they didn't include the 1st and 2nd movements also and dispensed with some of the weaker material on 'Works Live' instead.

'Tank' - I know a lot of ELP fans who wax lyrical about this version of 'Tank' but I can't say I share their unreserved passion for this rather perfunctory lope through an overripe chestnut. Again, this might be another instance of an Emerson composition that is insufficiently malleable to withstand being shoehorned into these jazzy slippers. (You shall NOT go to the ball)

Yep, it's very patchy with some really brilliant moments followed by large swathes of mediocrity and the odd lurking pile of poo. The track listing might lure some ELP newbies into buying this first, but they would be better to purchase either one of the many fine compilations that are around or start at the 1970 debut, reach Brain Salad Surgery then STOP. GO BACK. DETOUR AHEAD. GIVE WAY TO INFIRM DINOSAURS.

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER Pictures At An Exhibition

Live album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock
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- Unravelling the Old Castle in Newcastle -

Live albums as good as this one have something of a 'fluky' element to them i.e. Many of the early 70's concerts given by ELP were at the mercy of the mercurial Moog and it's tuning mood swings. You can hear examples of this on the disappointing video version of this piece (recorded at the Lyceum in London) where there are unscheduled 'atonal' moments which spoil the otherwise magnificent music. Similarly, the 'Mar Y Sol' performance captured finally on the 'From the Beginning' boxed set, is somewhat sullied by Dr Robert's pet beast wilting in the Caribbean humidity.

No such niggles here though, as the band are captured on a great night, mercifully free of the aforementioned technical gremlins (Newcastle can be many things, but certainly not humid in November).

The sound is simply stunning, you are placed right there in the front row (c.f 'Welcome Back', where we appear to be seated in the car park) Emerson's Hammond has never sounded this feral on a live recording, being neither too distorted (the Nice live) or too squeaky clean (Royal Albert Hall) It's just a perfect balance and lets his playing illuminate a detail and depth all too often obscured by prodigious technique funnelled through a fuzzbox.

I read somewhere that the intro to Mussorgsky's work was played on a real pipe organ (did they have one at Newcastle City Hall?)

As we have come to expect, the contributions of both Emerson and Palmer are damn near flawless but perhaps the greatest surprise here is just how much of the creative workload is taken up by Lake, whose contributions over the passing years became less and less significant in the band's output. Perhaps the only real timekeeper in the group, his bass underpins beautifully the technical maelstrom whipped up by E & P, with distortion and wah-wah effects used judiciously to spice up the timbres in this heavily organ dominated piece. Lake's solo spot 'The Sage' is beautiful, and apart from being a lovely Spanish tinged ballad brilliantly sung, displays his highly skilled classical guitar technique. From this point on, there is no similar example of this type of virtuosity from fatboy in ELP's catalogue.

There is a very liberal quote from a Bill Evans tune during the exhilarating 'Blues Variation' but I cannot remember what the song is called ('Interplay' perhaps?) If there is a greater example of jazz/blues organ over a swinging shuffle beat in the history of rock, then I have yet to hear it.

'The Curse of Baba Yaga' represents something almost encroaching heavy metal (without the requisite guitars) and has an intensity and edge that slowly left their subsequent work. Some ELP fans relegate this track to filler and, although I recognise their trepidation about the 'head banging' aspect of it, am puzzled at their dismissal of a ferociously driven heavy rocker containing a spine cracking tritone in the main riff and some real visceral gusto from Lake.

(Ya want jam on it lads?)

Lake's vocal on the climactic ending of 'The Great Gate of Kiev' must be a highpoint in the band's career, a sweening and soaring full stop to a magnificent part of ELP's recorded history.

I have heard other rock artists attempt portions of this work and have to conclude that it is ELP's unfailing grasp of the techniques of symphonic arrangement and interactive counterpoint that gives their version such a huge sound. You can layer 30 synth patches together if you like via MIDI and make the bass and drums sound like they are played in the Taj Mahal, but it will still come nowhere near the sort of power and weight realised here with considerably more modest equipment.

(The whole is greater than the sum of its parts).

If there is a negative aspect to this wonderful record it may be interpretive i.e.

Emerson has often bemoaned the disrespectful nature of pop music's bowdlerization of the classical repertoire and saw himself as respectful to the original composer's intentions. Why then encore with B Bumble and the Stinger's 'Nutrocker?' - unless you want to shoot yourself squarely in the foot?

Notwithstanding the foregoing, ELP's version cooks up a storm and is yet another example of this supposedly cold and po-faced band having a huge amount of fun.

Although they did not deliberately set out to sell classical music to a rock audience, ELP are certainly responsible for millions of people, who would otherwise have baulked at the idea, listening to such works and having their musical horizons widened. Perhaps we really should give them credit for that didactic aspect of their very influential presence in music.


No EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER movie reviews posted yet.


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